Ross Finman (Niantic) on the One AR Platform to Rule Them All

The Guest

Ross Finman is the AR Strategy Lead at Niantic, the company behind Pokemon GO and Harry Potter Wizards Unite. Niantic is building a state-of-the-art, planet-scale augmented reality platform for current and future generations of AR hardware.

Ross joined Niantic through the acquisition of his AR technology company, Escher Reality. He started Escher Reality while pursuing his PhD in Robotics at MIT.

On the whole, Ross describes himself as an entrepreneur with over a decade of experience at the intersection of the digital and physical worlds through Augmented Reality and Robotics.

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The Conversation

Ross and I spoke on stage at the 2019 Augmented World Expo in late May. This episode contains about 23 minutes of additional Q&A from both before and after the formal on-stage session that isn’t available in the official AWE video of the conversation.

In this conversation, Ross shares how he grew up on a Llama farm in Idaho, and how that influenced his pursuit of robotics at Carnegie Mellon and MIT.

He describes his transition to augmented reality, and an important learning about the underlying technology. He goes on to talk about Niantic’s ambitions in AR as well as some of the impacts on the real world. Ross also shares his perspective on handheld AR versus head-worn smartglasses.

We even field a question from author Kevin Kelly about the coming intersection of Robotics and AR. Ross concludes with a few lessons learned from his startup experience at Escher Reality.